How to Put Content Clusters & Search Intent at the Center of Your SEO Strategy?

content cluster strategy

Google’s algorithms are still evolving every day, making Google better every day at semantic search and responding to the search intent of the entered search term. A focus on content clusters and optimizing for search intent has become even more important in order to rank high in the organic search results in 2022.

You can read exactly how you can apply this to your SEO strategy in this article.

In a world where everything is becoming easier and faster, people no longer take the time to scour the internet in search of answers, solutions, and/or information. Being able to find valuable information on Google in no time is, therefore, a must these days. A good SEO strategy is necessary in order to show the information on your website to users on Google.

What is a Content Cluster?

Content clusters are collections of linked content that cover a big subject area. The content cluster concept is based on a hub-and-spoke architecture that contains pillar pages, cluster pages, and internal links.

How to create a content cluster?

1. For your content cluster, select a broad subject area.

2. Conduct keyword research to determine the full market opportunity.

3. For each cluster page, organize keywords into buckets.

4. write with the cluster pages. Then, finally, write the pillar page.

5. Create internal linkages between all of the cluster’s pages.

What is the significance of content clusters?

Content clusters are essential for a variety of reasons, including:

1. They provide more context about your content to search engines.

2. Topic clusters increase internal linking by allowing PageRank and relevance signals to be passed between URLs.

3. They demonstrate your range of coverage, boosting your authority on a topic.

4. Topic clusters enhance the user experience by predicting a searcher’s future moves and delivering the correct content at the right time.

What is Search Intent?

How to Put Content Clusters & Search Intent at the Center of Your SEO Strategy? - SEO

The term “search intent” (sometimes referred to as “user intent” or “audience intent”) refers to the objective of an online search. It is the reason why someone performs a particular search. In the end of the day, everyone who conducts an internet search expects to find something. 

  • Is someone looking for a solution? 
  • Is it their intention to go to a certain website they have in mind? 
  • Or are they looking for something on the internet because they want to buy it? 

Many of these searches are part of the online user journey, although they frequently reflect various stages.

Google has worked over the years to improve its algorithm’s ability to discern people’s search intent. Google strives to rank pages that best match the search term and the search intent behind the search query. As a result, you must ensure that your post or page matches your audience’s search intent.

Delivering relevance and value

We can say that a potential new buyer’s journey on the internet has been renewed. And that people increasingly do their own research before making a purchase decision. Therefore, during this journey, the user must encounter appropriate, valuable content at every stage of his journey. After all, if the content does not match what he/she is looking for, the competitor can be reached with a mouse click.

To support users in this, Google tries, by means of semantic search, to provide its users with search results that best meet the search intention of the entered search term. To determine whether a search result matches a search intent, Google uses the context of the page. Every piece of information on the web is considered an entity in semantic search.

And by structuring all this, Google understands the meaning of this entity. But also the relationship between the different entities. This means that to make things as easy as possible for Google’s algorithms, for semantic search, you should focus on developing valuable, relevant content that matches the user’s search intent.

You could use a clear and well-organized strategy that you could use for this is working with so-called topic clusters.

This is how you do it!

When we talk about a topic-cluster strategy, we are actually talking about a strategy in which the main page (pillar page) is created about the main topic, containing a valuable offer that is of interest to the user. Traffic is drawn to the website by means of related pages (cluster content) that focus on a specific sub-topic of the main topic, which is eventually forwarded to the main page via internal links. All this together is called an atopic cluster.

Using topic clusters or a similar methodology correctly is essential in a good SEO strategy. In this way, you can ensure that a suitable page for content clusters is developed for each phase of the customer journey so that people always end up on a page that matches their search intention.

Developing a topic cluster is not as difficult as it seems! I would like to take you along with an example: topic clusters for a fictitious marketing agency.

Step 1: Choose an important or relevant topic to your company or organization.

In the first step of developing an atopic cluster, it is important to map out information about the company, the services, and/or products. Which themes, categories, or services are important?

Step 2: Identify and develop a main page (pillar page) for this topic.

You then choose one or more so-called pillar pages that are about something that fits the topics. It is necessary to respond to the user’s need to monitor relevance. In this example, we will go deeper into the topic of online marketing.

If we choose the topic of online marketing, then appropriate pillar pages, in this case, could be, for example, search engine optimization, search engine advertising, social media advertising, and conversion optimization. Therefore, these pillar pages are, all “sub-topics” that have to do with the main topic of online marketing.

Step 3: Based on the customer’s journey, determine which content cluster should be added to your pillar page.

After you have mapped out the necessary pillar pages, you can work out which so-called cluster pages should be created. These are pages that generate traffic from the search engine, which is then sent to the pillar page via the cluster pages. The golden rule here is that the more content cluster pages that link to the pillar page (main page), the more Google will regard you as an authority on that topic.

Of course, you can add the list of potential content clusters directly to your content planning and, of course, expand and change it during the campaign.

To get a better feel for this strategy, I would like to take you along with the following example:

Just imagine: someone searches Google for “What to look for when choosing a search engine optimization tool?” An ad or landing page promoting your online marketing department will not be appreciated as the user’s search intent is different in this case. 

On the other hand, a content cluster page that discusses the 10 best search engine optimization tools, on the other hand, does. 

By offering a page like this, you create value for your visitors. Then you show the visitor through an internal link to the pillar page “search engine optimization,” which allows your search engine optimization team to achieve much more results than using one of the tools yourself.

How do you choose the right content clusters?

To get the most out of the campaign as quickly as possible, it’s a good idea to start with the content cluster pages that can deliver. In other words, content that is often searched for by your target group. A keyword analysis can therefore help you enormously. For example, note:

  • Competitors: which content clusters have we used? Which pages bring them the most traffic?
    • Search Volumes: Which keywords, synonyms, and variations are most used by your target audience? So pay attention to the semantics and write down associated semantically related terms so that you can process them on your content cluster pages.
  • Trends: Which trends are there that you can capitalize on?

Once you understand your target audience’s search terms, it’s time to categorize or cluster those keywords based on search intent. This is best done on the basis of the customer journey. This is a potential customer’s journey from orientation to post-purchase, which is reflected in the See, Think, Do, and Care model, among others.

This customer journey consists of different phases, each with its own customer needs:

  • See phase: seeking information about certain problems they are experiencing and associated solutions.
  • Looking for comparisons and features of the products, services, or solutions they are interested in.
  • Do phase: looking for an opportunity to purchase the relevant product, service, or solution.
  • Care phase: looking for incentives to stay connected to the brand or company

Categorize your search terms by customer needs.

A successful SEO strategy focuses on every phase of the customer journey. That means you need unique content for each stage of the customer journey. And since the phases of the customer journey each have different customer needs, you can properly categorize the search terms from your keyword analysis. For instance,

  • SEE phase: the need for information about certain problems they are experiencing and associated solutions Search terms related to how, what, when, and why 
  • Content types include blogs, e-books, and lists.
  • THINK phase: the need for information about the comparisons and features of the products, services, or solutions in which they are interested best, top, versus, distinction, reviews, and experiences;
  • Type of content: comparisons, in-depth articles on ways a product or service can enrich the user’s life.
  • DO phase: the need for information or the possibility to purchase the relevant product, service, or solution; Buy, purchase, and order type are search terms.
  • Type of content: product pages, pricing pages, articles with product and service benefits, or information about features or working methods.
  • CARE phase: the need for incentives to stay connected to the brand or company Email marketing, thank you. Page, promotions page, personal account, and review page are all examples of content.

Going through all the steps above may seem like a huge task, but it will definitely pay off. Therefore, take your time. 

Come up with appropriate main topics and create an X number of pillar pages for each main topic. Then research what your target group is looking for on this topic by means of extensive keyword analysis. Also, categorize the search terms based on cluster topics and the customer journey. 

The result? 

A comprehensive content plan based on a lot of research ensures that your SEO strategy can make a real difference.

Step 4: Optimize the landing pages for both conversion and search engine visibility.

Do you really want to distinguish yourself from the rest and want to generate leads for your customers in addition to the number one position in Google? 

Then don’t forget this last step! 

The ultimate goal of a pillar page is to get the user to convert. 

Make sure that the offer on these pages is in line with the content on the page. In other words, what do visitors who read the content of your pillar page find interesting enough to leave their data behind? In addition, content clusters can also lead to a conversion, provided you also keep a close eye on the visitor’s search intent.

To determine which offer is suitable for which intention, I have expanded the list above:

  • SEE phase: the need for information about specific problems they are experiencing and the solutions to those problems; Search terms related to how, what, when, and why 
  • Types of content include blogs, e-books, and lists of conversions: e-book, PDF, webinar, calculator, etc.
  • THINK phase: the need for information about the comparisons and features of the products, services, or solutions they are interested in. Best, top, versus the difference between reviews and experiences, are all search terms. 
  • Type of content: comparisons, in-depth articles on ways a product or service can enrich the user’s life. Types
  •  of conversions: introductory meeting, trial period, scheduling an appointment, offering the option of (non-binding) contact
  • DO phase: the need for information or the possibility to purchase the relevant product, service, or solution Buy, purchase, and order type are search terms.
  •  Type of content: product pages, pricing pages, articles with product and service benefits, or information about features or working methods. 
  • Conversion types include scheduling an appointment and purchasing a product or service.
  • CARE phase: the need for incentives to stay connected to the brand or company Email marketing, thank you. Page, promotions page, personal account, and review page are all examples of content.
  • Conversion types include signing up the community, reviewing optionss, and social media.

Focus on the entire customer journey.

Many companies miss opportunities by only focusing on people who are in the third phase of their customer journey, the so-called purchase phase (DO phase). 

By using the topic-cluster strategy, you create content for every stage in the customer journey. 

This way, you offer every user valuable content that matches their search intent. By connecting content in the right way and including semantically related words in content clusters, Google’s algorithms understand more quickly what your content is about. The result? More top positions in search results and more value for your target audience.

Of course, more roads lead to Rome, and the above strategy is not the only well-functioning content strategy. But one thing is certain: topic clusters and optimizations for semantic search are the foundation of a well-organized SEO strategy. 

Do you have any questions or comments regarding this article? 

Let us know in the comments!

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